Monday, 15 March 2021

David Cross: Why America Sucks at Everything

quote [ America: the greatest, richest, freest country in the world – or is it? David Cross, of Mr. Show, Arrested Development, and The Dark Divide, joins us to discuss why Americans, despite living in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, have a much worse standard of living than people who live in poorer countries. The "American Dream" isn't just dying: it's dead and buried. Cross tells us why. ]

I've got Everything is Awesome in my head. Which is totally appropriate for this post.
[SFW] [dystopian violence] [+5 Underrated]
[by steele@9:10pmGMT]


Space_1889 said[1] @ 4:19pm GMT on 17th Mar [Score:3 Interesting]
I listened to an interview of the economist Heather McGhee, author of the recent book The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together. I have not had a chance to read the book yet (I have asked for it as a birthday present), but her central thesis is that what makes the USA different is racism.

According to her, white working class Americans had much the same expectations of government services as Europeans up until the 1960s and 1970s. That was because they saw government programs as benefiting them. Once the Civil Rights movement started to ensure that government benefits flowed to people of color as well, the white working class turned away from government intervention, having been feed stories of "welfare queens" and the like.

The fascinating thing is that it was a cut off your nose to spite your face kind of thing. For example, many Southern cities had magnificent public swimming pools in the 1950s. Rather than let black people swim there, the local authorities closed and filled in the pools, meaning that no one could swim. Kind of sad when you think of what might have been.

Update: A friend of mine bought me the book today as an unexpected birthday present - I'm excited!
steele said @ 4:43pm GMT on 17th Mar [Score:2 Underrated]
That sounds about right. According to author Nancy MacLean's research, James Buchanan (the father of neoliberalism) and his associates, as part of their first experiments in "Public Choice" attempted to co-opt the school segregationist movements of 1950's Virginia to publicly fund a private school system that would effectively end public schools. The popularity of public schools caused the attempt to fail, but that movement was co-opted by the Koch Brothers and other billionaires and has since gone on to become the charter school movement that's been dismantling US public schools across the country.

It's easy to just chalk things up to white people being inherently racist, but it's important to remember that all of us are constantly exposed to a healthy amount of propaganda from cradle to grave in the form of news media, entertainment, textbooks, etc. All these forms of popular media that we consume are largely funded by the same handfuls of violently rich people that have no qualms about leveraging our differences to increase their bottom lines. Crank up the fear, paint people who look different as the enemy, and lo and behold, they'll tear each other apart even if it means losing their own in the process.
mechavolt said[1] @ 9:26am GMT on 16th Mar [Score:1 Underrated]
So this is well put together, and he's not wrong sources. If I show this to my stupidly right-wing father, the first thing he's going to say is, "I don't believe this. Prove it." Now I'm in a good position -- I'm a demographer, I already know where I can independently validate some of these info points. But most people aren't, and I'd bet a lot of people wouldn't even know where to start looking. And so this video, as well made as it is, isn't going to change minds, it's just preaching to the choir.

EDIT: Only tangentially, I took my father to the FDR Memorial, where they have this quote emblazoned in huge letters: "I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished." He scoffed, said it was an overblown statement with no facts to back it up. I pointed him to the data sources that show that it was true then, and that it's a pretty good estimate now. He was amazed and changed his mind. Then he forgot the next day and went back to thinking everything in America is great. I guess what I'm saying is that sources won't directly change minds, but they at least get you to the point where there's a possibility.
steele said @ 10:37am GMT on 16th Mar [Score:3 Informative]
It's after all the other usual youtube pablum but there's a link to citations in the vid description.
cb361 said @ 11:36am GMT on 16th Mar
I've been thinking about the idea that all human decisions are made emotionally/instinctively/irrationally, not rationally. It's kind of obvious, really.

I think of myself as a rational decision maker, and maybe I am. But no matter how carefully I quantify my data, I made an emotional decision to be rational in the first place. So how can my decisions be truly rational, when they dependent on and subject to a purely emotional underpinning?
mechavolt said @ 9:50pm GMT on 16th Mar [Score:1 Underrated]
No, I think you're absolutely right. All of us are emotional beings, it's baked into our brains. I'd go so far as to say that even so-called rational people are emotional/instinctive people at their core. We can make rational decisions here and there, and strive to intentionally be rational, but the vast majority of our day-to-day is subconscious and instinctive reaction. Furthermore (and this is not a dig at you personally) I am immediately suspicious of anyone who claims to be a rational person, as in my personal (and emotional!) experience, these people are the most instinctively reactive people I know.
Paracetamol said @ 9:47am GMT on 17th Mar [Score:2]
The magical thinking of guys who love logic

Repeat after me: calling something logic doesn’t make it so. Calling someone rational doesn’t make it so. Opinions from Youtube men are not facts. Getting mad about philosophers you haven’t read isn’t reason. Insulting your girlfriend because she questions your sudden political shift isn’t logic.

captainstubing said @ 11:30am GMT on 20th Mar
I have spent a long time reading econ and teaching it so I have poured some of my life into the idea of humans as rational agents. And it's right - to a point. That said, if you think of us as rationalising beings rather than rational you will usually be more correct.

We are highly social ape descendants. That matters.
Spleentwentythree said @ 11:53pm GMT on 15th Mar
I always heard how America is such a young country in so many ways, but we are also the oldest modern democracy. We are not dying, we are not dead and buried, we are just outdated. We have lived out a lifetime in our own legend.
arrowhen said @ 6:38am GMT on 16th Mar [Score:3]
We peaked in high school.
dolemite said @ 7:29am GMT on 16th Mar
My daughter said exactly the same thing in a conversation last year. It was funny then too.
cb361 said @ 1:54pm GMT on 16th Mar
If you can convince the average American he's freer than the best foreigner, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you.

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